The ridiculous new hair metal jukebox musical Rock of Ages opens this week, and while we'll have a full review of it tomorrow, we wanted to take some time today to discuss one big question we have about the movie. Namely, who is this movie for exactly? It's really hard to pin down the ideal demographic for this nostalgic yet Glee-esque take on a seedy recent-ish era. But let's try to pin down anyway, with a little demographic profile.
The fan of Rock of Ages is someone who is old enough to have an actual emotional or sense-memory connection to 1980s hair metal, but young enough to be into triple-threat robot Julianne Hough and dreamy mop-topped rent boy Diego Boneta. They are somewhere in their 30s, probably? It is hard to say. That is the murkiest part. Let's say if you talked to the fan of Rock of Ages online they would seem 22. If you talked to them in person they would seem past 40. They are neither. While we're on the topic of age, the fan of Rock of Ages is mature enough to be cool with the movie's strange and oftentimes lewd sexuality while innocent enough to be genuinely moved to a chill or shiver by an ending involving the Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'." Don't take your kids but don't take your parents either! Take yourself, you perfect Rock of Ages viewer you.
The fan of Rock of Ages moved out of their parents' place and into the second story of a house on a quiet street near a busy area with two roommates, maybe a couple. A couple that's really private and is just renting the spare room to make ends meet, they don't really want a roommate. So this person, the fan of Rock of Ages, has roommates but they're not close. Sometimes the three of them will watch a movie together but that's basically it. The fan of Rock of Ages has a younger sister they don't talk to much because she "can be such a bitch" and has a fiancée that this person doesn't like and anyway it's hard to get into the city. The fan of Rock of Ages has seen musicals, and likes musicals, but really loves cheap nostalgia best. That's really what gets them going, so something about Rock of Ages appeals to that. This person is single and often dreams of simple romance like you see in the movies, but it's hard to find love when you spend all your time driving around Montclair in a ratty old Volkswagen and hanging out in a booth at the Willowbrook Mall Ruby Tuesday's. This person goes there with their friends — a lumpy mixture of gay men and straight women — and they laugh and think they're being silly and ironic about this whole thing, about this tacky chain restaurant, but when it's time to order they are very particular and serious about it, ordering everything by its full, proper name and maneuvering the menu like a pro. ("I'll have the Baja Chicken Tacos but no chili lime sauce. Can I get the mango salsa from the Chicken Three Ways instead?") This person plays bar trivia with a giddy intensity, a veneer of "Isn't this fun?" barely masking a deep and urgent need to win.
The fan of Rock of Ages isn't a virgin, no they got that done in college, but sex is not the most comfortable topic for them. They think it's no big deal, or rather they act like it isn't, making comments about characters from TV shows and the like, people safely faraway or not even real. Sex jokes are fine, totally fine, so long as they're not made about themselves. This person isn't "a music person," but they know what they like. Back to the cheap nostalgia, there is a lot of '90s stuff on their mp3 player (it is not an iPod). They sing "Livin' On a Prayer" loudly with their friends if it comes on at a bar, on the slightly rare occasion that they are in a bar, this person liking for a brief second the thrill of being loud and inviting attention. This person has said "awesomesauce" within the last six months. They've quoted How I Met Your Mother within the last three. This person still thinks that Alec Baldwin's "renaissance" or whatever you want to call it is something worth talking about. Again, this person goes to theater but never manages to see the right thing. A few weeks ago they gave a somewhat halfhearted standing ovation to Leap of Faith. On the ride home they said to their friend that someone more famous in the lead role would have been more interesting.
The fan of Rock of Ages, the very person for whom the move was made, sometimes smokes cigarettes when they drink (juicy mixed drinks or Amstel Lights) but they smoke "wrong," holding all their fingers up when they bring the cigarette to their mouth. The smoking feels cool and conspiratorial. They've never bought their own pack. The fan of Rock of Ages is planning to go to Rock of Ages with their friends for the ostensible reason of hearing "awesome," "hilarious" '80s tunes and making fun of Tom Cruise, but throughout the movie something else will hum with resonance within this person. Something about Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta gazing damply at each other. Something about Cruise waving around like a dying boa constrictor. Something about the movie will burrow inside them, filling their head with a whisper, saying, "This is all for you." And it will be.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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